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SA’s inexperienced Test line-up learning invaluable lessons the hard way

South Africa’s Keegan Petersen. File Picture: John Walton, PA Wire, BackpagePix

THERE is a reward hidden behind all the negativity surrounding the ongoing Proteas’ cricket tour of New Zealand.

Already, the experienced Black Caps batter, Kane Williamson, has drilled invaluable lessons into coach Shukri Conrad’s inexperienced squad with centuries in both innings.

Although the team has been forced into submission having spent almost 200 overs in the field, there are lessons that the bowling attack and the batting unit will carry with them for years to come.

The bowlers have learnt that there is a very little room for error in Test cricket as compared to domestic cricket, while the batters would have noted the need to make full use of every opportunity that comes their way at this level.

Proteas top-order batter Keegan Petersen explained just how difficult it has been for them in the first Test at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. The 30-year-old also pointed out what the batting unit would have learnt from the two batting masterclasses that Williamson put on full display in the first and second innings.

“It’s been a tough couple of days,” he said.

“I think we’ve seen enough of Kane (Williamson) now. I looked at Kane and how he went about his first innings – it took a bit of time (for him to score freely).

“It set a template for the rest of us (Proteas batters) to see that it’s not a free-flowing wicket. There’s not much in the wicket but you’re going to take time to score runs and that’s just the way I looked at it,” he added.

Williamson was not the only New Zealand player that schooled the inexperienced visitors as spinner Mitchell Santner’s 21-over spell of 3/34 exposed the Proteas batters to the quality of spin bowling at the Test match level.

Petersen is 13 Tests into his career but in Test cricket terms, he is more or less as inexperienced as the six debutants that are in the playing XI.

“(Santner) played with his pace quite well and his lengths changed up all the time. So, it was difficult to line him up, which made it quite tricky to bat against.

“It was a challenge and I think that was the most difficult part of it all, the spinners. I think we will get a lot of that (in the future).

“The new guys in themselves, they’ve played quite a few first-class games and that gives us confidence in the fact that they are not really inexperienced – maybe it’s just the Test level.

“It’s something new to all of us, really. I haven’t played many Tests so I’m still trying to find my feet too.

“Hopefully, (we) will learn from this experience and take it forward.”

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